JOBS ON OFFER: Push to link Bowen producers with workers
A MOVEMENT is under way to link Whitsunday jobseekers and backpackers with a multitude of job opportunities available across horticulture and aquaculture right now.
With concerns farms could be heading towards a labour shortage, work is being done in Bowen as part of a wider Queensland campaign called #pickqld, which is aimed at attracting and retaining seasonal workers across Queensland's agriculture sector.
In Bowen a focus is being placed on linking workers with opportunities in different areas of agriculture so they can access work for months on end in the Whitsundays.
This would involve them working in fruit and vegetables now, then moving into helping with the mango season and then into aquaculture.
The free Quality Innovation Training and Employment service in Bowen is playing a key role in linking workers with opportunities.
Tassal prawn division people and culture advisor Jodi Reiffel said about 160 processing jobs were available at the prawn farm north of Proserpine, with roles starting from about mid-January.
Mrs Reiffel said the facility wanted to build a relationship with other farms in the region to help provide ongoing job opportunities for workers.
"To provide a bit more stability for families who are looking for work," she said.
"For people looking to stay in the region it's a flow-on effect for farms because we're giving them a reason to stay."
Mrs Reiffel said recruitment was under way for the roles and Whitsunday residents were encouraged to apply.
Mrs Reiffel was one of the industry representatives who attended a barbecue event at the Bowen Soundshell this week to link producers with workers.
Chantal Doualle from Euri Gold Farms also attended and said the business was looking to fill about 10 spots in the packing shed but wasn't currently experiencing a worker shortage.
Mrs Doualle said the farm was always trying to add more Whitsunday residents to crews.
"We want a strong community in Bowen and the Whitsundays," she said.
"So if we can keep people here, it doesn't just help us, they help strengthen the region and their kids become the next generation of agriculture workers.
"It's a fantastic life as well, you learn so many practical things from being on a farm."
Bowen Gumlu Growers Association agriculture workforce officer Julia Wheway said job opportunities were available during the fruit and vegetable season now, and would remain on the table for months to come in different areas.
"With a shortage of workers the crops are not able to be picked, then we risk losing large amounts," Ms Wheway said.
"The backpackers we have now will go home and they're not being replaced so the situation will get worse in the coming months."
Mrs Wheway said Whitsunday jobseekers and backpackers were encouraged to connect with the free Quality Innovation Training and Employment service based in Bowen and which offered Harvest Trail Services to link in with opportunities.
"We're really encouraging anyone from any industry," Ms Wheway said.
"We're looking for anyone who's willing to work hard and is reliable."
QITE is located at 1/43 Williams St or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1800 464 800.